Could you return to education or training despite having children to look after? The NUS estimates that around 6% of full time students and around 38% of part time students in Britain are parents, and the proportion is probably higher still when it comes to online training. The greater accessibility of this type of learning method makes it highly attractive to individuals with childcare responsibilities. It can provide a stepping stone into work both by upgrading skills and by helping you to develop a work/life balance that works for you and your family.
Why return to work?
There are lots of reasons why you might be ready to return to work. Perhaps you just need the money; you might be anxious not to take too long a break in your career; you might be feeling restless at home all the time and want to make use of your talents. If your kids are school age now, you may suddenly find that you have time free in the middle of the day when you could fit in a part time job. If you have a reliable child minder available or your kids are old enough to take care of themselves for a few hours after school, now could be the time to make a change. Alternatively, you may be ready to swap roles with a partner who has been working.
Despite the prejudices of the past, research has shown that children of working mothers do just as well as other children when it comes to their own future work prospects, their health and their happiness – and even slightly better when it comes to educational results, suggesting that seeing their parents work hard is inspiring to them.
Why choose online training?
Traditionally, people trying to fit education around care responsibilities chose to study through correspondence courses. Online training is the modern equivalent of this and is far more flexible in what it can offer. Alongside reading materials and video lectures, it can incorporate interactive quizzes and tests, discussion forums and real time tutorial groups. Activities are relatively easy to schedule around your other obligations and you can easily connect with other students when you need help.
Fitting education around parenting
Studying at home can be a real challenge, especially when children are hyperactive, so it helps to plan out a schedule that takes their activities into account. You could set aside time to study when they’re at school or, if they’re still too young for that, fit it around the times when they’re usually liveliest and most in need of attention. Seeing you studying can encourage children to attempt something similar, so you could do it when they’re doing homework or while they’re spending time reading or drawing. You can also talk to them about your course. Explaining what you’re learning in simpler terms can be an effective way of improving your own understanding and might help to keep facts in your memory.
Online training options
There are several different ways you can study online. Which is most practical will depend on the areas you want to focus on and the way you want to approach learning. The Open University is a leader in online degree courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and is a good choice if you want a formal academic qualification. The Knowledge Academy offers a great range of vocational courses designed to suit the needs of the modern business world, and it’s backed by organisations like Microsoft and APMG, ensuring that employers respect the qualifications it offers. If you want to experiment with some short courses to see how you get on, you can find a number of programmes available for free through the EdX group. And if you want to supplement a course you’re taking with additional educational material, you’d be amazed by what you can find on YouTube.
No matter how you approach it, getting back into education is hard work, especially when you have children to deal with. You’ll have to make a serious effort if you want to get the most you can out of your course. Taking on vocational training entails a commitment to more than just passing exams, it’s an opportunity to do more than just improve your CV. When you work hard at it, you can give yourself skills that will help you excel when you return to the workplace, not only getting back to work but doing it with style.